London-based ARTICLE 19, an independent human rights organization working to protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression and information, prepared an expert opinion regarding the case of journalist İdris Sayılğan, who is charged with “making terrorist propaganda”. According to the organization’s expert opinion, the provisions under which Sayılğan has been charged “do not comply with international and European standards on freedom of expression as they lack sufficient clarity and foreseeability”.
İdris Sayılğan was working for the now-shuttered pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA) in October 2016 when he first got arrested. After being handed down an 8 year and 3 month prison sentence due to another case where he was convicted of “membership in a terrorist organization” and spending 3 years and 1 month behind bars, Sayılğan was released from prison in January 2019. He will be appearing before Muş 2nd High Criminal Court on 15 September due to another lawsuit filed against him, on charges of “terrorist propaganda”.
The extensive expert opinion presented by ARTICLE 19 reminded the Turkish courts of certain elements specific to the online environment, and stated that online posts “should not be considered indicative of sufficient intent to incite the commission of terrorist acts”. Additionally, the organization remarked the fact that “sharing content does not necessarily signal endorsement, let alone incitement to take a particular course of action”.
Finally, it is concluded that the provisions under which the journalist was charged “do not meet the requirement of legality under European and international human rights law”, and that the restriction of Sayılğan’s right to freedom of expression would not be considered necessary in a democratic society.